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The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far

The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far

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As kids, we looked ahead to the imminent 21st century and thought of a big bold, sci-fi future. The robot butler and trips to the drug store in hovercars version hasn’t yet arrived, but the first 15 years of this century have been extremely fruitful for big-screen science fiction.

Sci-fi is almost as old as cinema itself —1902’s Georges Méliès’ “A Trip To The Moon” is generally seen as the first example— but it became hugely popular in late 20th century filmmaking in the aftermath of “Star Wars,” if also somewhat watered down. Many so-called sci-fi blockbusters were really action movies with some fantastical trappings, rather than thoughtful, provocative examinations of the world we live in through speculation about worlds we might live in.

That’s still true to an extent, but the last decade-and-a-half have seen a flourishing of smaller-scale, ingenious sci-fi pictures, as well as some dazzling bigger-scale examples with more ideas per se than explosions and laser fire. And with “Ex Machina” proving to be surprise hit this spring, the sci-fi idiom is the next in our Best Films Of The 21st Century So Far series (read Horror, Animated Films, and Music Documentaries).

We set a few rules —no superhero movies (which is a genre unto itself these days), no films with sci-fi segments without the whole film being in the genre (see “Cloud Atlas” and “The Fountain”) and a few films that don’t quite feel like they are true science fiction. Otherwise, anything went, and the 25 we’ve picked out makes up a hell of a list. Take a look below and let us know your favorites in the comments.


25. “Edge Of Tomorrow” (2014)
Taking “Groundhog Day” and giving it a sci-fi twist (more effectively than Duncan Jones’ “Source Code” a few years earlier), Doug Liman’s excellent blockbuster “Edge Of Tomorrow” picks up Tom Cruise’s dickish PR guy and drops him in the midst of a D-Day-style battle against an impossible alien threat, then makes him live it (and perish in it) over and over again. The film was the best use of Cruise’s star persona in aeons (serving almost as a metaphor for the redemption of his own stardom), but the secret weapon, aside from a cunning evocation of video game tropes, the best alien warfare since “Starship Troopers,” and crystal clear direction from a back-on-form Liman, was Emily Blunt as the “full metal bitch,” making a strong case that she deserves to be the biggest star in the world. The film didn’t find the theatrical audience it deserved at home, but more and more people are catching on over time.


24. “Donnie Darko” (2001)
Amazingly, it’s been nearly 15 years since Richard Kelly’s indie genre-bender arrived, and though its legacy has been tarnished by an inferior Director’s Cut and the helmer’s questionable follow-ups, the film remains as original and enjoyable a creation as ever. Melding John Hughews David Lynch, and Albert Einstein into an ’80s-set tale of a troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhaal, in a star-making role) who receives visits from a sinister rabbit who may be trying to convince him to travel through time, it’s rich, funny, swooningly romantic stuff with a very fine cast (Patrick Swayze and Katharine Ross got well-deserved comeback roles, there’s a great cameo from producer Drew Barrymore, and keep an eye out for a young Seth Rogen as a bully), and a surprisingly melancholy tone. Kelly, just 26 when the film was released, handles things with real flair (and a great ear for song selection), and while the Director’s Cut only makes the mythology more impenetrable, it’s a fascinating sci-fi puzzle-box on top of everything else.


23. “Battle Royale” (2000)
The premise of kids killing each other in a government-supported game has now been popularized to billion-dollar effect with the (very good) “Hunger Games” franchise, but if we were going to choose one film in this tiny sub-genre, it was always going to be “Battle Royale.” The final film from Kinji Fukasaku sees a class of high school students fixed with explosive collars and forced to kill each other as part of a scheme intended to curb teen disobedience. Lean, bloody, and with terrific action sequences (Quentin Tarantino called it his favorite film of the previous two decades), it’s also more than a mere genre piece: the students, and even their teacher (a smartly-cast Takeshi Kitano) are sensitively and three-dimensionally drawn, and its power as metaphor, both examining the power of violence and the demonization of youth, elevates it far above the tales of Katniss & co. Indeed, it cut a little too close to the bone for many, and landing in the aftermath of Columbine, it wasn’t released in the U.S. for eleven years, and is banned in Germany to this day.


22.Interstellar” (2013)
Perhaps one of the most hotly contested films, sci-fi or otherwise, in recent memory, Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” received a host of polarizing and emotionally hot reactions. Some claimed the picture his worst (our review wasn’t very charitable), some thought it was a vision from the heavens, and as usual, when the dust has settled, more mannered judgments have taken root (more of a consensus Playlist opinion forms here). So yes, Nolan shoots for the fences in “Interstellar” and arguably does not connect in the same home run fashion he has for so many pictures in a row now. The dialogue can be really on the nose, while the ending some see as jumping the shark. None of us will make too strong of a case against any of those points. That said, Nolan’s film is still a dazzling, ambitious vision of love, time, space, and some deeper, perhaps fuzzier elements of the universe. It’s the place where the heart and quantum physics meet. While that might admittedly be a bit of an awkward intersection, its love-letter sincerity to humanity inspired by Nolan’s own children is at least visually awe-inspiring and occasionally breathtaking. Admittedly clunky in spots, it’s a film that will very likely only grow in estimation over time.

21. “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” (2014)
After Tim Burton’s dreadful 2001 version, few had high hopes for the second reboot of the classic “Planet Of The Apes” series in a decade when Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” arrived. But the film was a quiet, unexpectedly moving triumph, and was then exceeded on every front by Matt Reeves’ follow-up, one of the few sequels that trumps the original. Picking up after the ape-pocalypse, as Caesar (Andy Serkis) is forced to confront humanity again, as well as a new threat closer to home, the movie, even more than its predecessor, takes full advantage of the stunning performance-capture technology, which reaches something of an apex here. Beyond that, it’s also simply a remarkably well-told story: a rare summer blockbuster in which you actively root against violence taking place, with a borderline Shakespearean arc for its non-human hero, and Reeves’ stylish-but-unshowy filmmaking chops steering things beautifully.

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Comments

cirkusfolk

Can’t fault your list at all. My five favorites: Edge of Tomorrow, Sunshine, Looper, Inception, and Interstellar.

cirkusfolk

Also, you might be getting some flac for not even including Prometheus in the honorable mentions.

Nathan Duke

Some choices I agree with, others definitely not. Glad to see Children of Men, Eternal Sunshine and Her up so high. Would put Gravity higher than Inception or Moon and Donnie Darko way higher. I’d completely remove Upstream Color, which did very little for me and move Looper back further (maybe number 25). I saw your reasoning for not including Wall-E, Under the Skin or Melancholia (had they met the criteria, I’d have ranked them all very high). Lastly, I’m not sure I’d call 2046 sci-fi, but if it is, then it should be on here over 2/3 of the other choices.

Piece Of Garbage

Olly, I missed you.

cineman

Love Children of Men at No.1 – and definitely going to check out Beyond the Black Rainbow (only movie on last haven’t seen – hell, I hadn’t even heard of it before)

Josh

No Speed Racer??? Give it up for that beautiful hallucination. No one in 25 years is going to care about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I really liked that movie. But that’s the truth.

Lola

can’t believe there is no Blade Runner or Alien here? what?

    Milord

    Blade Runner is arguably the best SF movie and deserves a spot fairly high on the list.

      Laurence

      Wrong century!

        papa

        I think you are getting mixed up with a decade, a century is 100 years so of course great real sci fi movies have been missed

          pelle

          “The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far”
          With emphasis on “21st Century So Far”. Need I say more?

dtich

so agree with this list, well done. very happy to see timecrimes on there! and agree with comments re: wall-e (too much comedy?) and 2046 — both tops for me too. thanks guys.

Mark

Genuinely cannot disagree wit this list. Great choices. I’d have to put Donnie Darko towards the top of my own personal list, but that’s only because it hit me hard during my formative years.

Depressed now

I always thought of myself as a science fiction fan. After seeing you list and having watched many of them I am now wondering if I actually like this crap at all. Few movies on this list are good. Most terrible and nothing great.

JoeS

Excluding WALL-E is silly, but, then at least IRON GIANT and/or INCREDIBLES should have been included.
NEVER LET ME GO is better than most of the Top 10. STAR TREK and AVATAR should be in, even if I’m personally not the biggest fan of either.
UPSTREAM COLOR is just too muddled, and Carruth is already represented with the clearly superior PRIMER.
And, the first IRON MAN would be a good single rep out of the Superhero class.

    Peter von zur Muehlen

    Super hero movies are not science fiction. They may be closer to the category of fantasy and though the superhero genre includes elements of sci fi and fantasy it really is a category and genre unto itself.

Greenblade

Prometheus-the most incredible story potential, amazing talent both sides of the camera, beautiful visuals–and it came out an incompetent mess. A damn shame. Can Ridley recover? We’ll see.

Failedlist

Where is Oblivion and Prometheus? *facepalm

benutty

The Playlist still trying to shove Upstream Color down our throats some more………………………..

shawn

I know we all have a big difference of opinion trying to par down a list and we can have great discussiosn all day about our favorite vs. yours but…Snowpiercer? Any blog I read that lists that piece of garage requires me to comment. Good Sci-Fi has to have a tight story if it’s based in the believable world…or it’s a world we have to suspend completely. The reasons for the train, the science of that train and the upkeep of that train make it silly. It is one of the stupidest premise ever for a story and to be honest it should have been done with aliens on another world because humans would simply not do this…nor act this way. I know my reasoning is not coming across very well as I simply don’t have the writing skills to explain well how terrible this movie is…so dear writer, you must prove to me why this show is worthy. Please write more!

Dennis Hernandez

very poor selection, no back to the future 123?, avatar? The Matrix, terminator?

Wes

^this guy

Wes

1. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth); 2. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai); 3. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly); 4. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron); 5. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

[big gap]

6. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry); 7. Moon (Duncan Jones); 8. Primer (Shane Carruth); 9. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp); 10. The Host (Bong Joon-Ho) DEFINITELY NOT SNOWPIERCER THOUGH!; 11. Avatar (James Cameron); 12. Looper (Rian Johnson); 13. Inception (Christopher Nolan); 14. Minority Report (Steven Spielberg); 15. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves); 16. Source Code (Duncan Jones); 17. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)

@ DENNIS HERNANDEZ & WES

Comprehension 101 check: do you know what THIS century means?

Ummm...

DARK CITY

    Profreshinal

    No hunger games? Otherwise good list

    Trey

    Dark City is ’99. This list is egregiously lacking in gun kata.

Grego

@Shawn…to quote Godard’s latest film, those who lack imagination take refuge in reality. That’s a good quote that applies to Snowpiercer. The whole thing is a metaphor. Generally, the people I’ve encountered who don’t like it focus on the physical aspects of the train, which, although they make sense enough for me to suspend disbelief, have nothing to do with the meat of the story. Science Fiction is supposed to be provocative and reflective of our world; Snowpiercer is that.

DG

Time Crimes is super underrated

JSintheStates

25 through 21 suck, so I’ll quit this list while I’m ahead!

Lauren

So happy to see Children of Men at the top. One of my favorites that more people need to see. Clive Owen is such a great actor as well

Grant

I know it’s something of controversial choice seeing how flawed the flick is but I have to put Southland Tales as an honorable mention

J Harris

Great, people still don’t get that the century began in 2001, not 2000.

Just a guy

No Chappie, even as honorable mention?

Tom

Great list. I’d add Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige to this list, courtesy of Tesla’s Transporting Man. IMHO still Christopher Nolan’s best film.

Ted

Sad to see that Nakajima’s “The Clone Returns Home” wasn’t even mentioned. It’s a simultaneously deeply moving and intellectual film in the tradition of Tarkovsky. I’d personally upgrade “2046” from honorable mentions, even if it is self-indulgent. But even a flawed Wong Kar-Wai film still tops most of the boring genre exercises on this list.

Nope

I dunno, The Clone Returns Home is certainly interesting and underseen, but it’s far from classic.

niñotocapelotas

let’s put a bunch of sci-fi titles in the turbo-mix, press on shuffle and… tadaa! a new Indie-wire article.

Magus Magazine

I virtually agree with Nathan Duke’s comments on the list. Great minds think alike I guess. A case could also be made for ‘Enter The Void’, and ‘Mr. Nobody.’

Jo

The absence of Under the Skin invalidates this list

Kate H

Your criteria for omitting ‘Under the Skin’ is like doing a list of great gangster films then saying "We’re leaving out The Godfather because it’s more of a wedding flick".

Also, where is Alexei German’s magisterial ‘Hard to be a God’?

Mariano

And "Predestination" from The Spierig Brothers ?

    Reece

    I know, what the hell?

mark seeley

Well, I haven’t seen every film that made the list or the honorable mentions, so I can’t say if I agree or not. But I like it.

Blind Beard the Pirate

This list was great, gave me some good ideas for movies to watch next. Except for Gravity. I couldn’t even finish that trash.

mynameisjoe

Fantastic list. Carruth and Cuaron are the kings. Now I just have to see Ex Machina…

Mike

Monsters, by Gareth Edwards. Big oversight there.

Szymon Bielsko

Guys come on! Where’s "Code 46"?!

Except...

Upstream Color, Snowpiercer, Her, Primer, Timecrimes, and Donnie Darko are terrible, terrible movies.

Stephen S.

Cool list. Don’t agree with all of them, but good anyways. Some of the honorable mentions should have made the list. And Minority Report should have been WAY higher! In fact, it should have been #1 IMO. Although Children of Men isn’t a bad choice either.

John Ranta

Given that you had Children of Men at number one, I thought i could trust this list. Alas. Upstream Color is a confused, jumbled mess. Neither a compelling story, nor a technically proficient. It doesn’t belong on this list. At least I won’t waste time watching Carruth’s other film.

Mark

5: Edge of Tomorrow, 4: Minority Report, 3: District 9, 2: Avatar, 1: A.I. Artificial Intelligence

JJ

“First good (but not the best) movie on the list is “Her”. Interesting, well done and well played. But not sure if it’s indie.
“Children of men” is simply weak. Shot in a very cliché way, suffering from something I call “child-view-reality”.
Another one on the list – “Moon” – brilliant, engaging, fantastically shot and played, with great concept behind it.
“Timecrimes” is nicely acted, well shot but as a whole weak and riddled with holes and shortcuts.
I leave “Primer” and “Upstream Colors” alone. I personally don’t like this fragmented, shaky-hand movies, but both movies definitely have something going for them.
“District 9” – good idea, terrible execution, turns out to be another boring “child-view” picture with right to the face apartheid message, wrapped in pseudo-intelectioal, pseudo-smart waste of time.
“Snowpiercer” is a joke. Movie for kids.
“Inception” is really well done and interesting. Leonardo DiCaprio is beyond believable, as usual. But ending of a movie and Nolan’s sell-out fireworks and child-view shortcuts are the reason this movie is good, but not great.
“Attack the block” is simply idiotic.
“Gravity” is a lump of pathetic pseudo-scientific pulp, that pretends to be everyting and isn’t anything. Perfect oscar candidate of course – I knew it right after watching (half of it – it’s a torture to observe Bullock and Clooney floating through the space from one station to the other in the cloud of a pathetic romance.
Both “Looper” and “Minority Report” (the former much better) were good movies, but nothing spectacular. Still enjoyable.
“Ex Machina” is ok-ish. Lead actor is bland and weak, the bad character is ok-ish, plot isn’t bad. A bit of a “child-view” here too.
“Sunshine” is fantasticallly acted and shot (Boyle is very, very good), scary and whatnot, but it has holes. I enjoyed watching it but those holes (size of the payload, oxygen issues etc) made it harder too watch and enjoy. If Boyle took some good advisors on board who’d curb those perforations, it would be a fantastic picture, ture masterpiece.
“Beyond the black rainbow” is easily the best movie out of the lot. Dark yet colorful, perfectly directed with extreme care for detail, with virtuoso perfomance of Michael Rogers and Eva Allan. I can’t say anything bad about this trippy, acidic trip that “Beyond…” is. And this music……
But most people will find this one very boring.
“Interstellar” is fantasticlally directed, well acted by Matthew (and badly by the rest), over budgeted, over intellectualized, childish lump of nothingness.
“Edge of Tomorrow” is a joke. Cruise cruising in some wobbly plastic space-helicopters. Ridiculous dialogue, bad acting, correct filming. Waste of time.
“Donnie Darko” is so so. Better then most on the list, but overall I wouldn’t watch it again. Few moments of brillaince and 90% of waste of time.

jj

Ah – and my list of few science-fiction movies worth watching:
1/ Beyond the black rainbow (on the list)
2/ Signal (with Fishbourne)
3/ Automata
4/ Love
5/ Moon (on the list)
6/ Sunshine

TINA

Glad to see CHILDREN OF MEN on the list and even better at #1. Alfonso Cuaron is a straight up genius. One of the best and underrated sci-fi movies ever made. Mine would be Children Of Men, Inception, Her, Gravity, and Edge Of Tomorrow. Though I think Inception & Gravity deserve higher positions on the list.

Maash

list appreciated, taste as well. Personally, one of the best s.f. (and movies) ever produced, "Mr. Nobody". Vanilla Sky rules and Blade Runner is a godfather.

Pavel Malkoff

Predestination (2014) is missed in this list! And Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Time Lapse and Robot & Frank could be Honorably mentioned at least. Great list anyway! Thanks.

Steve

No Blade Runner?, No Dark City? Not even in the honorable mentions?

Remi Fortier

Please add Europa Report in this ! So underrated but so good !

Dubflakes

Came to this list hoping to find something I haven’t seen. Unfortunately, I’ve seen them all. Was surprised at this list though. Didn’t think anyone would put out a list that mirrored my sentiments. Obviously there are a few shifts in order, but the top ten is almost indentical to what I would have gone with. Would have placed Moon in the top 3. Attack the Block would have been exiled for one of the Abrahm’s Star Treks. And I would probably have to kick out Looper for Triangle.
I would say honorable mention to I Origin, Wall-E, Safety not Guaranteed and Coherence

Hector

Excellent list. It puts true science fiction over tech or space fantasy.

Kenny Ritchie

Loved Looper and Moon. Safety not Guaranteed could maybe have been on that list.

Kenny Ritchie

Loved Moon and Looper. Safety Not Guaranteed and Source Code are also list worthy.

Steven Doyle

Pretty good list. But "Battle Royale" must be disqualified: it was made in 2000. That’s the 20th century, not the 21st.

Danniel

Children of men possibly the best film of the past 15 years? Could I possibly get the number for your supplier? They’re obviously getting better stuff than mine. I found the film tired, unimaginative and highly predictable as well as anticlimactic.

kurtis

hey man, i saw some other top sci fi lists and they were on crack. from looking at the first few I knew that anything i hadnt seen on your list i needed to, so thanks a lot! I felt like i was out of sci fi movies. thanks for not extending the genre too far like the rotten tomatoes list

Kevin Mahoney

Umm, Land of the Lost. Duh.

Skilled

Number 2? Oh do come on! He must be your mate.

Kevin Mahoney

Land of the Lost. Best sci-fi movie ever.

gabriel

The list is ok, maybe 5 titles on it which I have not seen yet, -that is the reaon i read these lists – but snowpiercer is not that good, and children of men is not the best sci fi from our time. i find it simila to cloverfield in terms of imagery, motives and feeling, but i think gravity, or minority report, or edge of tomorrow, are better.

Christian Mauceri

Putting Interstellar in 22nd position ruins the credibility of this review…

Sudeep

WHERE IS MATRIX IN THE LIST?

joe

Her is truly a masterpiece

Michael Baker

Gravity is not a SC-FI film! How is Inception so far down the list? Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is so overrated as is Sunshine.

k

Children of Men, Eternal Sunshine, Edge of Tomorrow were excellent movies I can’t get enough of.

Uncle Leon

I was really hoping to see Monsters (2010) on this list, or at least getting a honourable mention. Especially that a number of indie films did make it, and this one is easily on par with them.

avenger07

Children of Men being #1 gives this list lots of credibility…..Gravity should be positioned higher tho.

omg

wow, the guy who wrote this is plain stupid. interstellar on 23 ahahahahaha, planet of the apes in the top 25? wtf? and CHILDREN OF MEN on 1 ? dude…

omg

NOT TO MENTION PROMETHEUS IS NOT EVEN IN TOP 25 , JESUS

Rosebuddy

The original "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was ahead of its time! Surprised it did not make the list.

cherockee

Prometheus, Dark City, Equilibrium, Uncanny, Push, Unbreakable, Predestination

Al

Seriously, is this list best sci-fi films no one ever heard of. With the exception of a few this can’t be a serious list.

JAKE THE SNAKE

Great reviews. Great list! Thank you!

MadEnglishman

Good list, personal favourites being Minority Report, Inception. Must get round to seeing Children of Men, obviously.

chris

How could they not include The World’s End?!?! It gets better after every viewing, a glaring ommission.

Ralph

My list:
1. Children of Men
2. Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind
3. Her
4. Inception
5. District 9
I agree that Gravity doesn’t belong in this category but one of my favorite film due to 3D extravaganza

mike f

no Pandorum? loooool

ElGuapo

Star Wars did beat up tech before Alien, other than that sufficiently comprehensive. = )

Kwenoir

You guys are on crack! You cannot have a list that does not mention one Star Wars movie. It is not possible as IL&M invented the technology that most of these movies used in post production. I suggest you are either too young or too stupid to really make a "lucid" list of the best. And get some help with the drugs!

Miguel

Wow! I’ve seen all of them!

Michael T

Don’t forget the list is from films made in the 21st century (not the 20th). It’s great list but maybe I would arrange them differently.

vollsticks

Numbers 1 and 2 are two of my favourite films of all time. Infinitely better than Primer for it’s emotional heft…amazing film.
I do think Coherence deserved a place, though. It’s a puzzler on the level of "timecrimes".

wtg

Children of men as the best sci-fi i don`t really agree to that, gravity was to my opinion not as good as almost all the movies you guys listed

JonathanWalterWharmby

One film that I was disappointed to not see and I think deserves a mention was Predestination (2014). The film seems to have flown below the radar in most cases but is a refreshing take on the time travel genre. It’s a must see!

AO

I really don’t understand how Gravity is science fiction. its a suspense movie in space,but I really see no science fiction elements. there are people in space right now. Gravity could really happen. unless there was some futuristic technology that I missed when I watched it.

Ivan

Man from Earth. One of the best sci-fi movies nobody heard of.

V

I’m feeling this list although I’ve yet to watch some of these (such as Donnie Darko, Interstellar, Sunshine and others). I don’t think I would watch Edge of Tomorrow because I’m not so crazy about Tom Cruise (I only like his oldies). Anywho, I’m glad to see personal faves (such as Looper, Gravity, Moon, Her). Battle Royale is def’ a fave but I don’t think it should be categorized as Sci-Fi but more of a dystopian-themed flick.

Jimmy Tarone

"in the 21st century, we need all the hope we can get."
Right, less poverty than ever before in history. More people eating well than ever before. More education for more people than ever before. Less violence than ever before. Violent crime has been dropping for 20 years, and it was already lower than most of history. Most humans living now are living better than most humans in history, and many people live better than royalty did just 100 years ago. Disease is lower than it’s ever been, more infants and children than ever are now living to be adults and are living longer than ever before, with advantages almost no one has ever had before. Life for most just keeps getting better and better. Poverty is being pushed back in country after country.

The 21st century is all about hope. Yes, we have problems, but we will solve most of them. I feel extremely fortunate to be living now. If you don’t too, then you don’t see the many advantages you have, and that’s more about you than it is the world around you.

We face only a one major threat, and that is climate change. We can beat that, and eventually we will. Solar power is replacing fossil fuels. More solar and wind power plants are now being made than are fossil fuel plants. Solar energy prices are dropping like a stone.
There is immense reason to hope. If you don’t think so, then stop watching news, they focus on bad news. We are very fortunate. Vaccines, antibiotics, biologics, insulin (that keeps alive millions of children that otherwise would have died as teens, wasted away) and many other medical interventions. Don’t listen to the nay sayers.
The bad news is mostly fleeting. Humanity is doing very well and we are waking up to many problems.

Justin

I love how Richard Kelly has "a great ear for song selection". Isn’t Donnie Darko all Tears for Fears? Yes, there are covers, but that’s like saying Across the Universe had great song selection.

Ian S.

Based on this list, I just sat through Upstream Color with a group of friends. I can say with confidence that it’s potentially the worst movie a reader like me will ever be tricked into watching by critics who sound like they know what they’re talking about. Not only did we find it torturously boring, and its droning one-note soundtrack as pointless as it was pretentious, and an insult to engaging art-house symbolism lovers everywhere, no amount of analyzing its essentially non-existent narrative will ever salvage that evening it’ll come very close to ruining for you and your friends unless you’re sure to schedule enough time for laughing about how much everyone hated it.

Ray

How they missed "Terminator" which was a great story and fast pace (just the original, not the sequels) is beyond me. Many of the choices had silly plots or non-existent plots. The Wrath of Khan should also have placed in this group.

    Peter von zur Muehlen

    Neither of those films came out after 2001. This list is 21 century films only. Not of all time.

Public Service Announcement

Public service announcement. The 21st Century began with 2,000, thus The Terminator and films released before that are not part of this century.

Kruppe

Lovely to see the Soderbergh Solaris in the top ten. Completely agree,

Maxwell

Nothing AGAINST Children of Men, but I certainly wouldn’t have made it #1.

Gina Szanboti

How is Battle Royale science fiction? I see the fiction, but where is the science?

Michael J Oetting

I’ve seen all of these. Even the honorable mentions. I’m sad because I’ve run out od movies to watch.

Daniel

WOW, no Gattaca? Not even in the honorable mentions…

blue7

Avatar 3d was/is pretty amazing. Was it too big of hit, too entertaining, too predictable to make the list? Glad to see AI there — I would put it higher. I liked to see how the mechas are who we are pulling for, and the humans are in general the bad guys.

MyTH

This list is pretty much perfect. I was so glad to see Solaris, Primer, Upstream Color, Timecrimes, and Moon as the tops.

papa

Donnie Darko is no sci fi movie and clearly doesn’t feel like one either

Dieter

Gravity should not be in this list. While the effects were beautiful, the film was full of ‘space’-mistakes which maked it hard to watch until the end.

brian

If Carruth is acting pray tell how thats his cinematography? He must be telekinetic or is he telepathically controlling a machine. The way you describe him let alone your placement leaves one wondering if he isn’t someone’s buddy on here.

Daniel

Brian, do you know anything about Primer? Have you seen it? Carruth did do the cinematography as well as act (regardless of whether he was the camera operator on the few moving shots) and it is absolutely one of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century, so… Maybe you should know what you’re talking about before shooting your mouth off.

yourMom

Seriously. rating Dawn of the planet of the Apes before Interstellar is a poor judgement and makes me consider this rating as bullshit. Please review your movie standard before making another rating. Your opinion influences other people and, frankly, i think you have poor taste.
Good day

yourMom

Oh yeah and some other choices you made : snowpiercer… Really? Were you high or what? Seriously, stop doing this. You are bad at it.

Kasper

what about matrix?

Andy F

This is the WORST list I have ever seen!!! The bonehead who crafted this has NO Sci-Fi sense to him/her at all. First, to rate Children of Men as #1!!! That was the most boring, non-sci-fi, go-nowhere movie ever made in the genre. #2 To include Gravity and AI in this list is like eating dirt and calling it the finest meal you ever had. I could go on endlessly here, but its clear the bozo who put together this list knows NADA about good Sci-Fi. Leave him/her to judging the Teletubbies.

aa WWa

Under the skin is one of the most boring films ever

Lynne Lara

Science Fiction…I read my first story when I was in grade school…Martians had come to earth…earth had been destroyed…HOWEVER…there was a short piece of ‘celluloid’ that showed what earthlings looked like before they were destroyed…and at the end of the ‘movie’ it said, "Miekey Mouse…This has been a Walt Disney Production" And have never looked back…It has to be good tho…thought provoking…no ‘shoot em ups’ ah…and I love Stanley Kubrick…2001 and Eyes Wide Shut. Spiritual …

Eric

The 25 best Scifi’s in this century… an ambitious project indeed since, from my point of view, there has been so little that lives up to the standards of the last two decades of the last century. On the other hand, your writing was enjoyable.

I thought A.I, Minority Report, and Snowpiercer were particularly awful, and Gravity, District 9, and Ex Machina particularly good. I thought Europa Report and Under the Skin should have been on your list. After reading your piece, I will take another look at Moon, Sunshine, Her, and 2046. All-in-All, worth the time to read through.

Tom

Two that come to mind are Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion and Tron: Legacy. While neither did well with critics, they both are stylistic, visually stunning visions of science fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed them again and again. Much better than Solaris and A.I., for example.

dallas

over all not too bad of a list few on here i have not seen and a few i do not think quite fit the sci-fi theme. Not sure I would call Donnie Darko sci-fi it does have some parts but if you discount Cloud atlas and The Fountain then Donnie Darko falls into the same. Battle Royal is not a sci-fi its J-horror all be it an amazing movie. Gravity also is not a sci-fi that aside it was a bad movie very boring had some good visuals but the story just was very lacking. Children of men not sure i would put it at #1 it was a good movie but the book was so much better and I think they could have done much better with the movie. Solaris was just all the way around a very bad movie i could not find anything good in it. Also just could not get into Moon ether. Ex Machina should have rated much higher amazing movie. a few i would add to the list Uncanny (2015) and Advantageous (2015)

Joseph Phillips

I found Sunshine to be a far superior movie to Interstellar in every way actually. I thought the special effects were done much better despite the difference in budget. I also thought the script for Sunshine was a lot more believable than the far fetched Interstellar, and that was a movie where people traveled to the sun!

S4PSRuben

Great list, man… A genuine breathe of fresh air.

Muhammad zain

how to download this plz help mr

your name

haha. gravity is in no way better than interstellar.

to each their own.

Conztan10n

Gravity not a sci-fi???…dude, check your facts!

Iron Horse

I would have to add "Predestination (2014)" to the list as the most original time travel story line I have seem in some time.

Sheefwa

How about JOHN CARTERS OF MARS?

    Milord

    A horrendously lazy imagining of a childish and sloppy series of novels that reflected Burroughs’ misogyny and racism.

Ping

It all fell apart when you dubbed Children of Men as #1. It wouldn’t even be on my list at all. Sad, weird, and surprising.

Joe

How about Mr. Nobody???

    JJ

    and what about it except that it’s childish crap?

Vince

Upstream Color doesn’t deserve to be on that list, or any other list. unwatchable by 90% of the public.

Rey

Hate to say it, but some of these movies are absolutely boring. Try watching more movies.

Edward

LOL , Why is Gravity on 13.. Not even 20% SCIENCE FICTION. Just a woman that scream&shout in a cell in space.. What is so SCIENCE FICTION , i don’t know. Bullshit!

David Castle

A.I? Really? What could have been a really interesting film in the hands of another director was turned to utter pants by Spielberg’s predictable mawkish sentimentality. Haley Joel Osment’s creepy turn as pinocchio, looking for his mummy, made me want to punch him, and Spielberg, in the face!

IndyPat

Children of Men is in my top five faves, period. It’ being a sci fi flick is a bit of a stretch. No love for 5 Element? Come on! Serenity as an honorable mention is criminal.

P

Carruths work no. 1 and 2. Astonishing pieces of work.

Gattaca

How could you forget Gattaca by Andrew Niccol with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke ?

Trash Panda from Pluto

Could I throw in "History of Future Folk?" Silly, I know, but so very satisfying! Absolutely LOVE Children of Men, Moon, Sunshine, Donnie Darko.

Hammad Khan

Seriously?! Where the hell is The Martian and Prometheus?!?!

Deckard

Bladerunner wasn’t in the list?! or Alien or The Matrix

Luca Anda

you miss predestination with Ethan Hawk, it is superb!

hitori_shinbuku

what about Oblivion?? great flick, though the ending ripped off ID4 a bit. Beautifully shot, one of tom cruises best roles, plus a soundtrack from the masterminds of m83.

D_Rock

Not even an honorable mention for Oblivion or Prometheus???

David DiLillo

Seems like someone wasn’t thinking deeply enough about the ending of ‘Minority Report’!

David DiLillo

Also, there are *four directors who have two entries a piece, not three: Cuaron, Spielberg, Nolan, and Carruth.

Drag Me To Taco Bell

Great list. Props on including "Beyond the Black Rainbow"!

Robert Perry

Thank you for a thought-provoking list. Edge of Tomorrow is a personal favorite. I would have picked Blade Runner over Interstellar and added Melancholia despite your quibbles.

Carl

You actually missed GATTACA and both Mad Max movies, Road Warrior and Fury Road? And come on, the first Star reboot was Oscar worthy. You have some nice pics here, but come on?

Mark

Excellent review . I agree on Children of men being no.1

bmxer4ever

No mention of Oblivion? Proper old school sci-fi.

Avenger07

Agree 1000% Children of Men #1

Ina Gramatikova

Not even a mention of Blade Runner? Or 12 Monkeys? Or Brazil?

Alex

Primer was great but Upstream Colour was an over-indulgent pretentious mess. Remove Attack the Block and push Interstellar into the top 5 and it’s a perfect list!

Bob

Edge of Tomorrow is far and away the best movie on this list, and you’ve ranked it 25th!!

Ashley

Sorry, but I would have featured Inception a lot higher on the list…Edge of Tomorrow also great.

Gurvinder Singh Padda

Not adding Avatar to the list makes this list hilariously irrelevant. Even though the ones listed here are good, Avatar set a new standard. You don’t just make a sci fi list without Avatar. Sorry.

    Steven O

    Avatar sucked. Worst plot ever.

Kenny Vermeulen

Gravity? seriously? that even counts as sci fi movie? honestly, if i want to hear a woman heavely breathing andmoaning for 1,5 hours i’ll just have sex with my GF. inception? defenatly not worth to be in the top 25, replace those 2 with atleast the new star trek movies and Avatar, and thani can agree with your list :-)

Ari Goldman

What’s a Sci-Fi without those bleedin’ Spaceships? I recon it’ll be a total waste of everything without them in it! Sniff my top 25 list here:

1. Star Wars (All of it)
2. Star Trek (All of it)
3. Alien (All of it)
4. Predator (All of it)
5. 2001 A Space Odyssey (All of it)
6. Event Horizon
7. Sphere
8. Europa Report
9. Pitch Black (All of it)
10. Interstellar
11. Solaris
12. Sunshine
13. Guardians of the Galaxy
14. Serenity
15. The Martian
16. Independence Day (All of it)
17. The Matrix (All of it)
18. Close Encounters of the third kind
19. Red Planet
20. Starship Troopers
21. Pandorum
22. Oblivion
23. Red Planet
24. Outland
25. The Black Hole

Watch everything here and tell me if Im wrong. But dont screw with the list or I’ll cut you a new black hole, get it mate?

    WhiskeyRY

    Starwars is fantasy wearing a SciFi jacket

not sure

I’d say the list is mostly solid. I wouldn’t have put Upstream Color so high on it, but I get the appeal of the film… I’m really wondering where’s Twelve Monkeys?! Not even in the honorable mentions…

Carter

Surprisingly choice!

B-REX

As someone who has watched over 2000 movies and is an ENTP (ie intellectually owns all), I gotta say, this is a refreshing list of best sci fi (actually my fav gen).
However the early choices, I disagree with as they made zero impact, enough or lack there of for me to remember any part of them.

Anyway.

Keep up the good work.

God (or as close as humans in this era will ever see)

Caio

Great job with the list, I can’t imagine any better… I hope you keep filling this list…

LongDick69

Why the f*ck is Upstream Color even on this list? And at number two? Stylised directing and a good score does not make up for a weak plot that drags after the first 25 minutes.

Admiral Ackbar

seriously? What the hell were you on when you made this list? I mean.. seriously? talk about making a list of personal favorites that has no merit in actual generic usefulness to the rest of the world.
reading this was a waste of time.. and your existence is a waste of o2

shridhar pandey

Add your voice to the conversation…i like the movi children of men ,gravity,moon I liked all film list

Alex

Prometheus was unoriginal garbage based on internet conspiracies and bad science.

bowrilla

Ehm … seriously? The awful Solaris remake and not Tarkowskij’s masterpiece?

ELOQUENT MOM

Gravity.isn’t sci-fi. The director himself has said it, as well as tons of other people. It’s a dram set in space which depicts a particular type of present-day science. THAT’S NOT SCIENCE-FICTION. If Gravity is sci-fi, then also Bones and House M.D. are.

Muhammad Ibn-Raqib

Nooo! Unless I’m blind and missed it! Why wasn’t Serenity on this list! That just broke my heart! :'( but swing moon as number 5 really made my day though!!! Great list!

Leo

Is it just me or am I a bit off to think the Matrix trilogy deserved some mention?

Rick Pan

what happen to independence day?

Jeremy

Nice list, you’ll never please everyone. Gattaca and Pandorum (criminally underrated) would’ve been on my list also.

Gary D Williams

Vendetta deserved better,

Gary D Williams

"Vendetta" deserves better

sahil sharma

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Jonny blaze

I think you nailed it, with the exception of not mentioning Prometheus.

Martin

Thank you a lot! :)

ctuna

You missed Enders Game. Prometheus and Ovlivion

Jonty

All those who keep saying Blade Runner etc – look at the title of the list “21st Century” Half the films you lot are spewing about are in the 20th Century.

simran

Put edge of tomorrow in top 5 and remove dawn of planet of apes

simran

Gravity isn’t science fiction at all

    Nate

    You have a point

simran

Mark edge of tomorrow in top 5
Remove gravity

GM

The Martian should be on here 1000%. Very well crafted and detailistic thrilling film… If you haven’t watched it you’re missing out. Much more engaging than many of the other films on this list.
And hey if you’re going to put Endless sunshine of the spotless mind on here, can we put Shutter Island on here too… Both out of SciFi genre however Shutter island much more compelling than ESOTSM.

kagbalete

No Starwars????? Bummer!!!!

Rick

Have to make room for Ari Folman’s THE CONGRESS staring Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel and Jon Hamm.

TimNovi

Amazing list of undderated sci-fi movies

Curtis Franks

This list is invalid without Blade Runner… right? Come on!

    Jim

    As said before, wrong century.

    Peter von zur Muehlen

    Blade Runner does not fall into the specified timeframe.

Pat

Great List, many thanks!

Ben

Was this list created before Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow” was released? Because of it wasn’t, you guy completely missed a film that more than deserves a high spot on the list.

Bobby

Interesting list. There are so many brilliant sic fi films that you don’t mention. And some of the picks wouldn’t be on my list. I agree with many however. As a lifelong sci fi fan I’ll just pipe in.
Alien and Aliens
Can’t even begin to list the best films of the previous century but there were absolute beauties.

Christien

I am glad Prometheus is not on the list.That movie was a great disappointment. I don’t understand the appeal of The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; that movie was terrible from the mailed in performance by Franco to the absurd high speed tree traveling. Why is Avatar not on this list?????? I thought Clooney was great in Gravity. The first half of A.I. (the Kubrick half) was great but the second half (the you know who half) was a great letdown. Edge of Tomorrow is a very underrated movie, I think because many people can no longer suspend their disbelief when it comes to Cruise. As a huge fan of the novel, Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly was like a made for TV production which skipped all the most resonant scenesin the novel. Also, I thought Keanu was miscast.

Kathy

I love all of those sci fi films!! however, I heard that there is going to be a NEW “Plan 9 From Outer Space” that is in the making now!! it looks really cool they even have an FB page for it ,it looks old school too ,my hands off to these guys !!

VASTIK MISHRA

THE MARTIAN???????????

sarah

this article was top notch but the comments section is even better

SPACEMAN FROM ABOVE

I love how 80% of people are totally ripping the apart, while 20% generally are cool with the list, but most with reservations. It just shows how people have different tastes and points of view.

Peter von zur Muehlen

Well, this is an interesting list. Some of these I have seen. and most of them I will not see any time soon because they are not available on hulu, netflix or prime without paying additional money and that is a non starter for me right now. Though, as much as I appreciate science fiction with thoughtful and reflective aspects that relfect the human condition etc, when I really think about sci fi I want laser guns, space ships, aliens and epic mythologies. I want alien worlds and mad space monsters. But I also want it to be done with finesse and style of Pan’s Labyrinth and tightly executed special effects and choreography of action that the MCU has been giving us. Most of these films sound rather dreary. I see that force awakens is not on this list and rightly so. That movie sucked ten ways to sunday. Which is really a shame, because essentially the star wars mythos has all the right elements for a great story, but they watered it down so terribly with a very flawed execution, bad casting, and the general impulse to make a movie for children. I wonder if there is a list like this for fantasy movies.

Lex

Technically, the year 2000 isn’t in the 21st century. That’s why the name of the movie/book is ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. It was the first year of this terrible century. Thank you.

john

Upstream color number 2?! that pretentious shitpile, and children of men number 1?

Kenny

“In these days when the phrase “based on a comic book” has more or less become a guarantee of a plasticky, soulless “product” rather than a film,”

Seriously? Who writes drivel like this. Plasticky? What are you 6 years old for crying out loud? Why do film writers try to invent terms when they can barely understand the terms they have at hand? It also begs the question as to why film reviewers find it necessary to borrow French terms to insert in their reviews when such terminology does not make for clearer thinking or reporting.

This list is meh and the writer(s) blow wad which is typical of lame film reviews anyway.

Nothing of Star Trek? No Blade Runner? No Alien? I mean there are some truly GREAT science fiction films that deserve to be in the Top 25 and you just opt for the indie films “Because gee we’re nerds who listen to crap like Radiohead so that makes us cool”. Yeah that and fifty cents chum.

    Vesper

    Because ‘plasticky’ truly is a made up word…not. Why even argue over terms that you’re not 100% sure if they exist or not.

dxbinc

You should have include CONTACT in the top 5 – its an intelligent and thought provoking masterpiece.

asra

I’m disgusted. This list is crap. Edge of tomorrow? are you kidding this movie is shit. Children of men 1st?? Wtf, anticipation is not science-fiction and this movie is an unpalatable stew, same for black rainbow.

My list:

1. Interstellar
2. Her
3. Inception

The others are waste of time

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